Posted on September 03 2019
It's summer and holiday time – people travel and that's a good thing. But you simply have to be aware of the effects this has. Sometimes the visit of the most beautiful places in the world doesn't have to be that harmful to the environment.
Sustainability should impact all areas of life if it is lived convincingly. But especially when on holiday, even those who otherwise buy from organic farmers, do without plastic and do not drive a car sin. Tour operators know from experience: on holiday, customers want to have fun and keep their distance. Sometimes even from the desire to save the world. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that it is travel that causes considerable damage. And that doesn't just apply to CO2 emissions.
Our holiday pleasure: where we "sin" the most
It is quite clear that air travel suddenly burns up many bonus points collected elsewhere in the way of life. Airplanes emit amounts of CO2, which make you dizzy. And air travel is still so cheap, especially the popular city weekends at mini fares, but also all-inclusive tours for small money in Africa, Asia or the Caribbean. Such offers are indeed not sustainable. But would a cruise-trip be a good idea? Again, no. Because the ocean giants harm the environment at least as much as the amount of waste they dump in the sea, no one can check them so closely, and the working conditions of the crew are not exactly what you want to consider. And the example of Venice shows what consequences the daily entry of large ships can have. Here the enormous bow waves damage the foundations of the Palazzi, and the swarms of tourists increasingly drive local Venetians out of their own city.
Are there alternatives – and how do you travel more sustainably?
There are indeed alternatives, and they are even very attractive. Because if you don't spend hours at the airport or get stuck in traffic jams by car, the holiday enjoyment starts much earlier and the relaxation is also more sustainable for the travellers. The basic rule is: you don't have to travel far, quite the opposite.
Those who live in the city and simply stay at home on holiday benefit from empty streets and parks and can often enjoy a special holiday offer from the local authorities, especially for families with children. But if you still need a change of scenery, there are two ways to travel "green" – either by train or with a ride-sharing opportunity. Rail travel decelerates, and especially on long-distance trips you can enjoy the journey and not just the destination. For those who like it particularly relaxed, longer distances can be covered with a sleeper train. And it doesn't cost more than an overnight stay in a middle-class hotel!
And for the outgoing, riding with others is a way to drastically reduce CO2 emissions by driving a car and perhaps get to know nice travel companions at the same time. Platforms on the internet bring drivers and passengers together and ensure that even longer distances can be covered at affordable prices.
One type of travel that was not so rare until the 19th century is often underestimated – walking. In recent years, however, more and more people have discovered so-called pilgrim routes. Particularly popular: the Way of St James to Santiago di Compostela. You don't have to be so religious for that. Travelling on foot helps you to recollect yourself, to shift down a gear (or gears) and to become more attentive. The Way of St James runs through the whole of Europe. The first step often begins in front of one's own front door. And you don't have to walk all the way to Santiago...
And what if you still want to go overseas?
If you want to travel to Africa or America, you can hardly avoid the plane. Experts recommend in this case to stay at least so long that the flight is worthwhile - also ecologically - at least two, better three weeks. It goes without saying that such a holiday can only be combined with a green conscience every few years.
But it’s not just about nature!
Sustainable travel should also take into account the integrity of destinations and the lives of their people. And here, too, the traveller can do a lot. For example:
- Do not travel to countries where the human rights situation is questionable.
- Avoid overcrowded, "trendy" holiday resorts – here you get ripped off anyway, and the tourist flow does not do the area any good.
- Be on the move outside the peak travel times, if at all possible.
- Do not stay in international hotel chains, but choose hotels or resorts run by local companies.
- Make excursions and shopping in local sources, eat in local restaurants.
- Use public transport on holiday.
- Produce as little waste as possible on the road.
To sum up, you should travel in such a way that the people there where you are, are just as happy as you are about the trip. And you can make a really big contribution to this with little effort!
Everyone can and should join in – NIKIN sets an example
Although we at NIKIN are mainly concerned with sustainable materials in the fashion industry and fight against global deforestation, it is important to think sustainably in other areas of life as well. We want to motivate people to rethink their lifestyles and possibly make them more sustainable.
It's summer vacation time and despite the ongoing climate debates, many still travel to the farthest corners of the world. We don't want to point the finger at holiday travellers, but instead point out alternatives to airplanes and cruise ships. Because: Travel is beautiful and important. But one can plan its journey in such a way that one harms neither the environment nor humans at the destination – and experience nevertheless a lot of vacation pleasure!